Adult-born granule cells (ABGCs) are involved in certain forms of hippocampus-dependent learning and memory. It has been proposed that young but functionally integrated ABGCs (4-weeks-old) specifically contribute to pattern separation functions of the dentate gyrus due to their heightened excitability, whereas old ABGCs (>8-weeks-old) lose these capabilities. Measuring multiple cellular and integrative characteristics of 3-10 weeks old individual ABGCs, we show that ABGCs consist of two functionally distinguishable populations showing highly distinct input integration properties (one group being highly sensitive to narrow input intensity ranges while the other group linearly reports input strength) that are largely independent of the cellular age and maturation stage, suggesting that 'classmate' cells (born during the same period) can contribute to the network with fundamentally different functions. Thus, ABGCs provide two temporally overlapping but functionally distinct neuronal cell populations, adding a novel level of complexity to our understanding of how life-long neurogenesis contributes to adult brain function.
Animal experimentation: All experimental procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the Institute of Experimental Medicine Protection of Research Subjects Committee (permission: 22.1/1760/003/2009) and were approved by the local virus safety committee.
- Gary L Westbrook, Vollum Institute, United States
© 2014, Brunner et al.
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Consumption of food and water is tightly regulated by the nervous system to maintain internal nutrient homeostasis. Although generally considered independently, interactions between hunger and thirst drives are important to coordinate competing needs. In Drosophila, four neurons called the interoceptive subesophageal zone neurons (ISNs) respond to intrinsic hunger and thirst signals to oppositely regulate sucrose and water ingestion. Here, we investigate the neural circuit downstream of the ISNs to examine how ingestion is regulated based on internal needs. Utilizing the recently available fly brain connectome, we find that the ISNs synapse with a novel cell-type bilateral T-shaped neuron (BiT) that projects to neuroendocrine centers. In vivo neural manipulations revealed that BiT oppositely regulates sugar and water ingestion. Neuroendocrine cells downstream of ISNs include several peptide-releasing and peptide-sensing neurons, including insulin producing cells (IPCs), crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP) neurons, and CCHamide-2 receptor isoform RA (CCHa2R-RA) neurons. These neurons contribute differentially to ingestion of sugar and water, with IPCs and CCAP neurons oppositely regulating sugar and water ingestion, and CCHa2R-RA neurons modulating only water ingestion. Thus, the decision to consume sugar or water occurs via regulation of a broad peptidergic network that integrates internal signals of nutritional state to generate nutrient-specific ingestion.
Complex behaviors depend on the coordinated activity of neural ensembles in interconnected brain areas. The behavioral function of such coordination, often measured as co-fluctuations in neural activity across areas, is poorly understood. One hypothesis is that rapidly varying co-fluctuations may be a signature of moment-by-moment task-relevant influences of one area on another. We tested this possibility for error-corrective adaptation of birdsong, a form of motor learning which has been hypothesized to depend on the top-down influence of a higher-order area, LMAN (lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium), in shaping moment-by-moment output from a primary motor area, RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium). In paired recordings of LMAN and RA in singing birds, we discovered a neural signature of a top-down influence of LMAN on RA, quantified as an LMAN-leading co-fluctuation in activity between these areas. During learning, this co-fluctuation strengthened in a premotor temporal window linked to the specific movement, sequential context, and acoustic modification associated with learning. Moreover, transient perturbation of LMAN activity specifically within this premotor window caused rapid occlusion of pitch modifications, consistent with LMAN conveying a temporally localized motor-biasing signal. Combined, our results reveal a dynamic top-down influence of LMAN on RA that varies on the rapid timescale of individual movements and is flexibly linked to contexts associated with learning. This finding indicates that inter-area co-fluctuations can be a signature of dynamic top-down influences that support complex behavior and its adaptation.